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Things Never Change

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Japan was a land of conflicting emotions. He lost his twin here; yet upon coming to the country to find his body, he found a group that exceeded his expectations in both psychic ability and human connection.

Returning to England with Gene’s body had been necessary. His parents wanted to bury their son. The six months he was forced to endure away from the company he created felt less necessary.

With a sigh, Oliver looked away from the window in his office. Picking up his cup of tea, an image of the woman who made it flashed through his mind.

Mai.

Inhaling the scent of Earl Grey, he relaxed at the combination of tea and her smile. Before leaving for England, he had felt as though he lost to his twin again.

Gene was everything happy and fun. While it had been a shock to learn that Mai’s spirit guide was his brother, it was not a surprise for Oliver that Mai would confess feelings towards Gene. It was a mistake often made through adolescence. The girl would always regret her confession upon realising which twin she was speaking to.

Me or Gene?

A standard question. One that made returning to Japan more difficult upon the realisation that while he had feelings for Mai, Mai wanted Gene. It had taken time for the understanding of these feelings to be clear. How could he return to Japan, to her, when she wanted his dead twin? If he went back, would her behaviour change? Would she become indifferent to him? Would she want to see him?

After several months being home, he was involved in a conversation regarding the Japanese team and their abilities. It made him realise he wanted to return. He had mourned Gene. Had since the moment he felt this twin die. It was now time to do something for himself. So, he began making arrangements to return to Japan.

Initially, Lin was not included in those arrangements. However, upon learning of the younger man’s plans, Lin quickly informed Oliver that he had every intention of returning as well.

England is a spiritual wasteland compared to Japan.

Oliver smirked at the memory. It had certainly helped in appeasing his parents for Lin to come with him. He began to research psychic phenomena similar to what he had observed in Mai. With little to find, he was determined to take the opportunity to broaden his understanding of Mai’s abilities.

Which meant working with Mai.

It had been a sobering thought, knowing that Mai had realised her feelings for Gene.

Which is what made her response at the end of the Arakaki case so improbable. Mai chose him. He knew that she meant it, her hand on his face triggered his psychometry. He knew what she felt about him. About Gene. He could sense the depth of her feelings.

So why was she so reticent since returning to Shibuya?

Releasing his tightened grip on the cup, Oliver pondered his own feelings. Mai was…

Unique…

Intriguing…

A loud cry could be heard from the sitting room of the office. Oliver rolled his eyes.

Absurd.

With a sigh, he stood from his desk and moved to the office door. He could hear the chatter of the Irregulars; Mai’s laughter rising above all the noise.

Fixing his face into his signature cold stare, he snapped open his door. As he stalked into the room it took quite a bit of his considerable self-control not to laugh at the melee before him.

“Naru!” Mai cried upon noticing him. She tried to wriggle out from Yasuhara’s grasp, stomping on his feet when the man refused to let her go.

Raising an eyebrow, Oliver turned to the other embraced pair. Matsuzaki had somehow managed to climb onto Takigawa’s back and was trying to simultaneously throttle the man and collect her purse from his grasp.

At Mai’s cry, all movement in the room stopped. Sheepishly, everyone moved away from the person closest to them, Matsuzaki gave up on her purse but took the opportunity to jab Takigawa in the kidneys, and tried to present a facade of normality.

Oliver had to check himself from rolling his eyes. Yes, he mentally snickered, this isn't ridiculous behaviour at all.

As the four in standing before him settled into embarrassed silence, Oliver turned to Mai.

“Has the appointment booked for today been cancelled?”

Mai’s face became red. Oliver hoped it was because she realised how bad it would look if a client walked in on this scene.

As he watched, Mai scampered to her desk to check the calendar. Waiting for Mai to confirm the booking, he looked back at the remaining three. Of them, only Yasuhara didn’t appear to wilt under his gaze.

“No cancellation, Naru. They should be here in the next fifteen minutes or so,” Mai said sheepishly, she clearly wasn't over the embarrassment of the earlier scene.

Turning to face her, Oliver was struck again by his feelings for her. Or rather, why he had feelings for her when she was so constantly ridiculous. He never enjoyed foolishness when at work but, somehow, Mai’s foolishness always made him smile. If only to himself.

Hearing Yasuhara’s snicker and realising he had been staring at Mai, further evidenced by her bashful expression, Oliver turned to face the sitting area. With a pointed glance at the disarranged furniture, he suggested that she use the remaining time to prepare for the interview.

As he entered his office but before shutting the door, he gave Mai a last instruction.

“Mai. Tea.”

The resulting growl made the smile he was holding back break free. She really is ridiculous.

 

Ten minutes later, he heard a knock on his door. He looked up to see Mai poke her head in.

“The client is here,” she said before darting back out to the sitting area.

Oliver nodded and collected his notebook. He could hear Mai offering tea to the client. As he walked into the room, he saw a tall, thin man sitting on the lounge. Making his way to his preferred seat, Oliver took note of the dark circles under his eyes and the tense set of his shoulders.

Shifting his focus from the client, Takigawa and Matsuzaki were sitting to his left, Yasuhara was manning Mai’s desk, but still close enough to hear what was being said. Lin was seated in the other armchair, laptop on his knees to take notes.

Settled, he observed the man seated before him. His expression was fearful. However, Oliver sensed that there was more to the fear than just a haunting.

“Here,” Mai said as she put down a tray of teacups on the low table. Passing out the cups, she then took a seat in the only remaining place, next to the client.

Oliver noticed with interest the change in her body language. Where before she was her usual professional, if chirpy, self now she sat with her body arched away from the client. While she still had a smile on her face, it was strained compared to her usual grin.

“Sato-san.” Oliver noticed the man jump slightly when he was addressed. “You asked to speak with us regarding happenings at your home?” Oliver prompted.

“Yes.” The client, Sato Kisho, placed his teacup on the table before clasping his shaking hands.

“We, my wife and I, have been getting phone calls. They always occur at the same time. When we answer, the voice on the end is a woman. Calling us her parents. Asking for help.” He stopped abruptly, shuddering.

Oliver was surprised when Mai did not lean in to offer comfort, as she usually did. He sent a look to Lin who nodded, having also noticed the unusual behaviour.

While Sato took time to compose himself, Oliver inquired as to why this was so unsettling.

The man looked at Oliver with terrified eyes. “Our daughter, Emi, went missing fifteen years ago. She was nine years old.” Sato rubbed his hands together. “She was our only child.”

Interesting. Oliver took note of the past tense used.

“You don’t believe the woman calling could be your daughter?” Matsuzaki asked.

Sato tensed before he shook his head. “We have moved since Emi disappeared; and our phone numbers have also changed. But the phone calls,” Sato stopped and took a deep breath. “The phone calls don’t show up on any phone statements, there is no return number showing on the phone.”

“What happens if you do not answer the phone?” Oliver queried.

Sato, who had just taken a mouthful of tea, almost choked on it.

“The phone keeps ringing,” he managed to cough out an answer. “It rings until we pick it up. The longer we wait to answer the phone the more hysterical the voice on the other end is.”

Oliver frowned at that piece of information. Before he could ask for clarification, Lin beat him to it.

“The message changes?”

Sato nodded. “If the phone is answered quickly, the woman sounds slightly stressed. If we ignore the phone, by the time we pick it up the woman is screaming and begging for help.”

How very interesting.

“Are there any other happenings? Other than the phone calls?” Takigawa asked.

“No,” Sato responded.

Oliver snapped his book closed. Raising an eyebrow at the startled client, he turned to Mai.

“Gather the usual details; you, Lin, and myself will head out first. Yasuhara, be on call for research purposes if needed.” He then looked to Takigawa and Matsuzaki, “We will call you and the others if necessary.” With that said, he turned to move back to his office.

Oliver heard Mai asking the man for his address and the best times for them to arrive before he shut the door.